Do you need solid, easy to use language arts resources to help your elementary students produce and share digital work required by our new Common Core Standards?
Many of our Common Core State Standards require us to teach our elementary students to use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others. The standards themselves take into consideration that kids will need adult support to help them walk their ideas through the writing process- organizing, drafting, revising, editing and publishing their work. So, as we begin to expose our students to the three main genres of writing- narrative, expository and opinion writing, we will need to give them direct, targeted opportunities to manually write and digitally document their stories. A few digital resources I have used in my instruction are:
1. Writing Wizard Kids Learn to Write Letters ($4.99)
2. iWriteWords (Handwriting Game) ($2.99)
3. LetterSchool- by Sanoma Media ($4.99)
For basic sentence writing and language building Instruction-
4. Sentence Builder for Special needs ($5.99)
5. Sight Word Sentence Builder by Sierra Vista ($1.99)
6. SentenceBuilder for iPad by Mobile Learning ($5.99)
7. Daily Sentence Edit 2 ($2.99) * There are other grade level apps for differentiation.
For various genre process writing instruction –
8. Write to the Core for beginning Writers by Brainsters ($.99) * Love this one, it has student samples!
Produce and Publish Digital Stories– As most of us have learned, balance is the key when establishing work patterns for young learners, so this also holds true in the paper/pencil and digital work debate. Most of my 20 plus years of teaching children has been focused on teaching them to read and write, so I strongly believe they need to spend quality time with paper and pencil especially at the beginning of the year alongside the digital exposure. The tactile part of writing is still necessary to their development. The challenge for us is how to prepare our students for a digital age that we ourselves are not familiar with. We will not have all the answers and that is okay! All we can do is to model a growth mindset for our students that we are all learners and jump in with both feet! They will take on our attitude toward new things, if we show frustration and a closed mindset, so will they. I can recall many occasions that I had what was in my mind, a great lesson planned and either our internet was spinning, what my students call “The Waiting Wheel of Dome” or I had not been thorough enough on the research of an app that I planned to use and found it to not work the way I was assuming. As stubborn as I am, I did learn to drop it with as much composure as I could possibly collect and move on with a “Plan B”. The last thing I wanted was to have students go home with a negative experience with technology. I want them to experience the excitement and understand the leverage that technology can give them in their education and everyday life.
There are literally hundreds of content creation apps out there and I have tried many of them. I would like to share with you three resources that I have had great success with and think that you will love them too. One major mistake teachers make when introducing iPads into their classrooms is to overwhelm themselves and their students by trying too many apps and tools in a short amount of time. Trust me I have fallen into this category myself. So, the three apps below are all you will need to get started. My top two, Book Creator and Shadow Puppets Edu are very comparable to each other for primary students. As a matter of fact, this is a video comparing them side by side. Be sure to click on all three links below for details.
1. Book Creator by Red Jumper Limited ($4.99)
There is a free version of this ebook creator, which allows a student to only work on one book at a time. Which is fine if you have your work flow all ready to go. Book Creator recently updated their app to save and export the ebook as a video, an ePub to send to iBooks through iTunes or a PDF to be emailed to a parent.
2. Shadow Puppet Edu (Free)
My favorite thing about this app bedsides the fact that it is free is that it has it’s own images for the kids to search.
Interact and Collaborate
3. Educreations (Free with $12.00 a month subscription fee through iTunes for all features, which was so worth it to me.)
This has been my favorite resource for students to “Show what they know” across the curriculum. They also have a fantastic selection of clipart style pictures for the kids. As you can see in My Katelyn’s Butterfly Screencast, (Also shown in photo above) there are many great age appropriate images for the kids to use. Click here and scroll to the bottom for a video demo! So Awesome! Educreations is also a web tool. I have my Educreations account/home page open on my Smartboard so student recordings or “Screencast” can be viewed right away. I often times refresh my browser so they can see the newest addition to our class collection. The kids can also see each other’s work anytime they want inside their app that is linked ahead of time on each iPad or laptop. I did end up setting up a recording booth in the corner of my room with a headset that had a microphone attached for those that were serious about not having peer voices in the background of their screencast recording.
I hope these recommendations are helpful to you. I do absolutely love finding “Just Right” new tech to fit the varied needs of our students and for you, the valued teacher!